If you’re like most parents, who have their kids carry out some of the more complex tasks in the home, whether it’s configuring the wireless router or the TV, then it can be somewhat tempting to let your kids do whatever they like while online.
But the truth is that that could be a mistake.
While your kids may be proficient with modern technology, they may not be so great at evaluating risk.
One thing we all know, because we were once there, is that manipulating children isn’t particular difficult. You can get a child to drink, smoke, and bully and even commit suicide, in more extreme circumstances.
These mistakes carry with it a lot of ramifications. Anything from a system filled with malware, the theft of one’s identity, the child’s life being at risk and the loss of friendships.
As is the case in life, guidance should be provided; boundaries should be in place and depending on how old and mature your child is safeguards should also be in place.
Where the threats are coming from is something you also want to be aware of.
1. Ensure You Have Access to Your Child’s System: This doesn’t mean you need to monitor absolutely everything they do on their computers. But you may want to check things out at least once every couple of weeks, you can examine the various websites they have access to and the kinds of things they may have downloaded to their computers. If you can, you should also consider monitoring the chat rooms, received emails and IM applications they are using.
Sex-offenders like to use the internetto lure their victims, with chat rooms being their prime tool for purpose. These communications established between the offender and the victim, tend to evolve into email exchanges after some time of speaking in a chat room.
In the case that you find that your child may be a target of one of these sex offenders, there are several options available to you. The first thing you’ll want to do is talk with your child, just to clarify what you think is happening. The second thing you want to do is find out how deep these conversations are going, and if they’ve become explicit. In the event that they have, local authorities should be contacted.
2. Set Separate Kids Accounts on Your Mobile: Smartphones and tablets allow you to create multiple accounts, even on the same device.
On Android tablets it’s possible for you to create a restricted account, for your child, which you can use to limit the kinds of apps he/she has access to.
On Android phones, it’s possible for you to create an account for your child. But when it comes to account restrictions, the only option you have available to you, is the ability to turn off both text messages and phone calls.
That said it is possible for you to restrict Google Play accounts. If you go to the Settings ->Parental Controls, you can turn it on there. This will allow you to restrict apps, movies, games, music and much more.
When it comes to Apple devices, it’s possible for you to control features, apps, private settings and content. Just go to General ->Restrictions, and you should be able to Enable Restrictions there.
3. Install a Good Antivirus Scanner: Do your children have their own computer? Or are you all using the same system? The reality is that it matters very little. Security is a priority, regardless, and you want each and every computer to be protected, safe from malicious files and online intruders.
Since children tend to be drawn to new things, despite their limited life experiences, they are usually more likely to access untrustworthy websites. Not to mention, the likelihood of them downloading and installing something from an unknown location, this could result in their system being infected with a virus.
Thus, you want to have the best antivirus product, which you acquired from a reputable source. This scanner should include real-time scanning capabilities, automatic updates and a firewall.
In order for you to determine what’s best for your family, there are many antivirus reviews you can check out, which I recommend you do check out.
4. Make Sure Your Child Uses Safe Chat Rooms: There are many child-friendly platforms out there that allow children to communicate with one another online. You want to vet these sites to ensure that they are properly moderated.
You also want to teach your children not to share their personal details over these platforms, but to instead access them anonymously.
5. Keep Your Child’s Software Up-To-Date: Make sure the operating system that your child uses, is up-to-date with all the latest patches and security updates. These updates are very important as they are designed to maintain the security and stability of the system, protecting it from the endless cyber-attacks and criminals.
One thing that has been noted is that many hackers tend to access operating systems by exploiting security loopholes in software, such as Java, Adobe Flash, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
It’s for this reasons you’ll want to check your child’s computer to ensure that their system has all the appropriate security patches. There are many tools that you can use to carry out these tasks, which is something you may want to invest in, especially if you have a lot of computers in the home.
Author: Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website http://www.compuchenna.co.uk.